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Gay Journalist and Immigration Activist Jose Antonio Vargas Detained by Border Patrol in Texas

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Jose Antonio Vargas, the openly gay Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who came out as an “undocumented immigrant” in a high-profile piece in the New York Times back in June 2011, was detained earlier this morning by U.S. Boarder Patrol agents in McAllen, Texas.

The Washington Post reports:

Jose Antonio VargasDefine American, the nonprofit U.S. immigration-reform campaign founded by Vargas, announced the detainment. In a statement Tuesday, Define American campaign director Ryan Eller said: “This morning, Mr. Vargas attempted to board a plane to Los Angeles, where we are scheduled to screen our film ‘Documented.’ Mr. Vargas did not make it through security at the airport. Our understanding is that he is currently being questioned by border patrol. The community leaders standing with me work with constituents and live this reality each and every day.”

Eller called on President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson “to exercise prosecutorial discretion and immediately release Jose Antonio Vargas from Customs and Border Protection custody.”

White House and U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesmen declined to discuss the detention further however. 

The Post adds:

Last week, shortly after his film, “Documented,” aired for the first time on CNN, Vargas wrote in a Politico magazine piece that he’d gone to the U.S.-Mexico border “to visit a shelter for unaccompanied Central American refugees and participate in a vigil in their honor.” He wrote: “I realize that, for an undocumented immigrant like me, getting out of a border town in Texas — by plane or by land — won’t be easy. It might, in fact, be impossible.”

Vargas was held for 8 hours, according to the Washington Post. He was ordered to appear before an immigration judge.

[photo via Twitter]


NYC LGBT Leaders Endorse Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for Reelection

Three prominent LGBT organizations and six LGBT members of the New York City Council have endorsed New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (pictured) for reelection. It's no coincidence that these endorsements fall on the one-year anniversary of DOMA's defeat; Schneiderman was an active opponent of the law, so the timing is symbolic.

SchneidermanIn their statements of endorsement, Councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer, Rosie Méndez, Daniel Dromm, Corey Johnson, Carlos Menchaca, and Ritchie Torres cite the Attorney General's strong track record of supporting LGBT rights. In addition to fighting DOMA and Prop 8, Schneiderman was a supporter of LGBT rights in the early 2000s, when being a vocal ally was less politically popular.

According to Councilmember Dromm: "Before [Schneiderman] was Attorney General, he worked with our LGBT community to pass SONDA [2002] and DASA [2010] in the State Senate, laws that provide important protections against workplace discrimination and school harassment."

Schneideman is also praised in the statements for his support for immigration reform via the DREAM act, which supports immigrant high school students.

Said Councilmember Menchaca:  "Attorney General Scheiderman has always championed fair treatment for all New Yorkers. That's why the LGBT community and all communities need him fighting by our side, and why I'm proud to endorse him for reelection this November."

Three prominent LGBT organizations joined in the endorsement:  Gay and Lesbian Independant Democrats, the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, and Lambda Independant Democrats of Brooklyn.

Said Schneiderman in response to the support: “I am incredibly grateful for the support of these Council Members and LGBT leaders. They know that our work to ensure equal justice for all New Yorkers is far from over. With their help and support, I look forward to continuing that fight for the next four years.”


Thursday Speed Read: Title IX, Rea Carey, Asylum Seeking, Ohio, Colorado, Maryland

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

PROTECTION FOR NON-CONFORMING:

EducationThe U.S. Department of Education (ED) on Tuesday released guidelines to clarify for schools receiving federal aid that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against sex discrimination “extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.” The DOE’s guidance makes clear that its Office of Civil Rights “accepts such complaints for investigation.” The guidance requires school officials to “investigate and resolve allegations of sexual violence regarding LGBT students using the same procedures and standards that it uses in all complaints involving sexual violence.” National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey called it a “giant leap forward” toward “staggering rates of discrimination” against students who are transgender or non-conforming to gender role expectations.

NGLTF LEADER ARRESTED AT RALLY: Carey

NGLTF Executive Director Rea Carey was one of 27 people arrested for blocking an intersection on Capitol Hill Wednesday in a protest against the refusal of the Republican-led U.S. House to take up an immigration reform bill. The Fair Immigration Reform Movement organized the protest. NGLTF estimates that more than 250,000 of the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants are LGBT.

FOCUS ON ASYLUM:

Immigration Equality held a press conference in front of the White House Tuesday afternoon to urge President Obama to provide relief to LGBT people seeking asylum in the United States. The group says it has more than 300 clients in need of asylum. According to the organization’s website, persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status can be a basis for the Bureau of Immigration Appeals to grant asylum.

OhioNEW OHIO LAWSUIT:

Ohio civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein has filed another lawsuit in federal court in Cincinnati seeking to strike down that state’s ban against issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The lawsuit filed Wednesday, Gibson v. Himes, is being brought on behalf of six same-sex couples. Earlier this month, another Gerhardstein lawsuit won a ruling from a federal district court judge in Cincinnati to recognize the out-of-state marriages of four same-sex couples and put the names of both parents on the birth certificates of their children. That case is now on appeal to the Sixth Circuit.

ColoradoCOLORADO POLLS RISING?

A poll by Quinnipiac University of 1,298 registered voters this month found a whopping 61 percent support allowing same-sex couples to marry. Last December, Public Policy Polling surveyed 928 Colorado voters and found only 48 percent said they would support allowing same-sex couples to marry. The December poll, however, gave voters a choice of allowing gays to marry or have civil unions. Thirty-two percent were OK with civil unions. In terms of voters opposed, 18 percent said that in December there should be “no” legal recognition of same-sex relationships, 32 percent said they “oppose” allowing them to marry.

MarylandMARYLAND BALLOT BATTLE BREWING:

A Republican-led group announced Tuesday that it will seek a referendum this November on a bill passed by the Maryland legislature to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. The governor has not yet signed the bill, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, but is expected to. The group, MDPetitions.com, is referring to the measure as “The Bathroom Bill,” a moniker frequently used by opponents of gender equality to stir fears that the non-discrimination law will enable men to enter women’s restrooms to harass or attack them.” The group must first collect 55,736 signatures by June 30, including one-third of those by May 31.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Donald Trump Gets New Hampshire GOP Voters to Boo Jeb Bush on Immigration: VIDEO

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At a conservative summit in New Hampshire over the weekend, human taxidermy project Donald Trump mocked former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s recent comments about illegal immigration being at its core an “act of love”

Mediaite reports:

“You know, I heard Jeb Bush the other day,” Trump said, pausing for the chorus of booing from the audience to build. “And he was talking about people that come into this country illegally, they do it for love.”

“And I said, say it again I didn’t get — that’s one I’ve never heard before,” Trump continued, with the crowd’s boos growing louder. “I understand what he’s saying, but, you know, it’s out there.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Donald Trump Gets New Hampshire GOP Voters to Boo Jeb Bush on Immigration: VIDEO" »


UK Home Secretary to Review Handling of Gay Asylum Claims After Reports of Interrogations Surface

Theresa mayFollowing reports of invasive interrogation procedures for gay asylum claimants, U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May has ordered a review of border officials’ handling of claims made on the grounds of sexual orientation. The Guardian reports:

"We do need to establish that the risk of persecution is real, and this will often depend on whether the sexual orientation of the asylum seeker is as claimed," said May. "We seek to establish this at interview through questions about sexual orientation, not sexual behaviour."

Previously leaked documents revealed the high burden of proof these claimants face. One male asylum seeker was asked a series of intrusive questions including: "What is it about men's backsides that attracts you?" and “What is it about the way men walk that turns you on?” The BBC also reported that, "in extreme cases claimants had handed over photographic and video evidence of 'highly personal sexual activity' in an effort to persuade officials."

"It was disappointing therefore to discover that we may not have followed our guidance in at least one case, which was brought to the attention of the media recently and where inappropriate questions appear to have been asked," said May.

"We are committed to treating all asylum claimants with respect and dignity and we want to continue to improve on current practice in this area."

The paper notes that MPs have previously raised concerns the process for lesbian and gay applicants, many of whom are fleeing persecution in their home countries, relied too heavily on anecdotal evidence and "proving that they are gay."


Documentary on Gay 'Undocumented Immigrant' and Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas to Air: VIDEO

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Jose Antonio Vargas, a gay journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings and in June 2011 came out as an "undocumented immigrant" in a stunning piece in the New York Times, is the subject of a new documentary called Documented, written, produced and directed by Vargas himself.

DocumentedThe film chronicles Vargas' experience after revealing his immigration status and his reunion with his mother, whom he had not seen in two decades.

The film will be released in New York at the Village East Cinema on May 2 and in Los Angeles at the Landmark Regent on May 9 prior to an airing on CNN, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Said Vargas to THR:

"As a newcomer to America who learned to 'speak American' by watching movies, I firmly believe that to change the politics of immigration and citizenship, we must change culture -- the way we portray undocumented people like me and our role in society. I am thrilled to be working with CNN, Tugg and BOND/360 to share my story on screens around the country and remind people that when we talk about immigration, we are talking about real people and their families."

Watch the trailer for Documented, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Documentary on Gay 'Undocumented Immigrant' and Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas to Air: VIDEO" »


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